Phylogeny and species delimitation of near Eastern Neurergus newts (Salamandridae) based on genome-wide RADseq data analysis

Loïs Rancilhac, Forough Goudarzi, Marcelo Gehara, Mahmoud Reza Hemami, Kathryn R. Elmer, Miguel Vences, Sebastian Steinfarz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We reconstruct the molecular phylogeny of Near Eastern mountain brook newts of the genus Neurergus (family Salamandridae) based on newly determined RADseq data, and compare the outcomes of concatenation-based phylogenetic reconstruction with species-tree inference. Furthermore, we test the current taxonomy of Neurergus (with four species: Neurergus strauchii, N. crocatus, N. kaiseri, and N. derjugini) against coalescent-based species-delimitation approaches of our genome-wide genetic data set. While the position of N. strauchii as sister species to all other Neurergus species was consistent in all of our analyses, the phylogenetic relationships between the three remaining species changed depending on the applied method. The concatenation approach, as well as quartet-based species-tree inference, supported a topology with N. kaiseri as the closest relative to N. derjugini, while full-coalescent species-tree inference approaches supported N. crocatus as sister species of N. derjugini. Investigating the individual signal of gene trees highlighted an extensive variation among gene histories, most likely resulting from incomplete lineage sorting. Coalescent-based species-delimitation models suggest that the current taxonomy might underestimate the species richness within Neurergus and supports seven species. Based on the current sampling, our analysis suggests that N. strauchii, N. derjugini and N. kaiseri might each be subdivided into further species. However, as amphibian species are known to be composed of deep conspecific lineages that do not always warrant species status, these results need to be cautiously interpreted in an integrative taxonomic framework. We hypothesize that the rather shallow divergences detected within N. kaiseri and N. derjugini likely reflect an ongoing speciation process and thus require further investigation. On the contrary, the much deeper genetic divergence found between the two morphologically and geographically differentiated subspecies of N. strauchii leads us to propose that N. s. barani should be considered a distinct species, Neurergus barani Öz, 1994.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-197
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


  • Multi-species coalescent
  • Neurergus
  • Neurergus barani
  • Species delimitation
  • Species-tree inference
  • ddRAD sequencing


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